According to statista.com, as at 2013, 41 percent of global internet users have done on-line shopping, spending USD840 billion that year. And that is projected to grow to USD1.5 trillion by 2018. This doubling every 5 years can only mean that shoppers are moving away from traditional shopping.
Often people will see items in shops and display windows and then look on the internet to find a better price. On-line shops have much lower overheads and can afford to give better prices.
While South Africa represents only a small percentage of this spend, it does not change the fact that people are putting more and more trust in on-line shopping and the trend will follow here too.
Unique jewellery, fortunately, lends itself more to a traditional studio setting where the designer can interact directly with the client. That market will probably never go into the Internet cloud. But not all jewellery is custom made.
I believe that in just 10 years South African retailers will start feeling the pressure to compete with the growing number and popularity of on-line stores.
There are four levels of sophistication to get into selling on-line.
- The first is the already ubiquitous web site. A web site is really just a shop window with extra information. Good web sites show good pictures of the best products and invite the viewer to visit the shop.
- Level two adds price lists or catalogues to the web site, together with an order form that will get emailed to the shop owner for a basic on-line shop.
- The third level is a web site that looks from a shopper’s perspective like a fully fledged on-line store. Although CRM will still be done on the store’s accounting system, this would go as far as reserving the items and notifying the shop owner of the order request. The shop owner will need to negotiate terms, delivery, and invoice the customer.
The web site has:
• Search ability
• Current prices
• Stock availability
• Shopping cart
• Client accounts with secure login
• Delivery address input
• Place order button
- The top level of on-line store would calculate the shipping cost, accept payments, generate the tax invoices and packing slips for the warehouse. It will also include CRM functions such as customer reviews and suggestions.
No on-line system will replace a good inventory control and accounting system, but a good inventory control and accounting system will enable a working on-line store.